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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The birds are flying....

If you were online at around 11:30 last night you might have heard a collective sigh of relief from those over eager masqueraders waiting for TRIBE's website to go up; it did finally!! Personally I would have waited an extra day to have them fix some glitches such as the section Wild Parrot takes you to African Love Bird's photos, the fact that you cannot view any of the photos for Pheasant and that you do not see the new option of the feathered collar for Brazilian Macaw anywhere on the site; get it together TRIBE!

I really don't know why people were stressing themselves over the website, since frankly there are much better photos of the costumes floating around all over the internet not to mention we already had prices. I suppose once the option to register online is working perfectly all is well for Saturday, yayy!! And if the website going up has not stemmed the anxiety now people are clamoring to know when the NON TLC holders are going to be able to register... hmmmm... good luck on THAT. A smaller band with over 6000 TLC card holders??? I do not see any hope of the general public getting to register with TRIBE, realistically. For that to happen more than half of the TLC holders would have to not register. Good luck.

Anyway let me not instill further panic into people, God knows I am at the end of my rope with frantic questions about registration and TLC cards as if I am working for and with TRIBE! I have to say that Hummingbird Frontline is a sleeper! It looks absolutely gorgeous on the website and I am also loving the price as well! The studio shots do not do the costume justice, when the light hits it (as in the second shot) you can clearly see the sequins shimmering and it does not look dark at all! I love it!


Question and Answer with the Band Leader

Why do bands never have their website ready and the same time they launch? They have known for months when their launch date is ready, why not get the website ready for the same night? And why take so long to release prices? Surely thorough costing is done during the design process so prices should already be known?

This is a sore point for many masqueraders. Especially the foreigners, It is hard to say as I can only speak for myself on this.but in my case preferences are given to registrations taken at the mas camp so that often by the time the site goes up some sections are already sold out. As you know sections sell very quickly and it makes no sense putting up a section that by the time anyone gets a chance to register on line it's already sold out. Holding back on prices id a strategy used by some bands to create a must have attitude, whereby you and hopefully your friends have seen this costume and pondered on it, have decided you must have it. So when the price comes out you are already sold on it. Trust me we as band leaders all know to well how expensive costumes are and always hold our breath every year about this time hoping that you guys will spend your hard earned money with us. A lot of bands are trying to give different options so as to ease the financial impact of playing carnival.

Hi, my first question is what is the strategy (if any) behind early launches (and the ensuing early registrations)? Launch dates have moved up significantly in the past few years and I was wondering if there is a strategy behind this. I think that early launches sometimes put masqueraders at a disadvantage because we feel pressured to register with a band long before we've seen even the majority of the options. Early launches are great for people who know that regardless of costume design/price, they are gonna play in a particular band, but for those who are band hunting or people who like to explore their options before committing to pay a $900+ down payment, these early launches can cause some stress. Thanks

The reason for early launches is to raise capital to make purchases we need our orders in and delivered hopefully before the Christmas rush,and also to give more time for manufacturing. And yes I understand your dilemma as to choosing where you want to play as is your right, but preference is always given to the faithful carnival masquerader.

Question # 2: Are designers contractually obligated to provide costumes that are unique to a particular band and if so, what are the repercussions of sharing a costume look with another band? To clarify I am referring to the fact that Melilot Bleu (Spice) and Spangled Cotinga (Tribe) are very similar and were designed (I was told) by the same designer(s).

Are designers usually allowed to work for more than one band, and can they use the same ideas for different bands within the same year without consequence?

It's hard to say different bands have different designers and each have unique arrangements. Legally the issue would be up to the agreement made between designer and bandleader but ethically I personally find it a serious conflict of interest, and I am against the idea.

Why are Tribe's back line costumes so expensive in comparison to Spice's?

Just in general, new bands will try to under price existing bands to win over masqueraders even if means taking a loss. This is a general business practice A new product needs gimmicks to attract clientèle. But as soon as they establish themselves you will see any price difference quickly disappear

BL one of the biggest debates on this blog occurs when prices of "mas" is discussed. In that vein. . 1. Generally what percentage of the expenses incurred by mas bands are offset by sponsorship? For example sponsors may provide food, pay for a truck etc. The benefits are obvious i.e. the mas band's expenses are cut AND the sponsor is able to have its name &/or products for an international audience. Which leads to the second part of this question-what percentage (if any) of those savings are passed on to mas players?

That is also hard to say, sponsorship may vary from year to year. As a rule you price all expenses into the costume as if you have no sponsorship. Most sponsorships are not finalized until way after the launch,.and the more bands their are, the harder it is to get sponsorship as well as every year as a rule sponsors try to get more for less than they paid the previous year, Also some sponsors try to pay with product. It's hard to say most sponsors are those who have new products on the market or those who feel threatened by new products.Average sponsor will pay anywhere from $5,000 to $100, 000 (the latter being rare) n product\, cash or the offset of bills.

2. The pricing/packaging of mas seems to be geared more towards the overseas market than the local market. What effect if any does this have on the pricing for a mas band? In other words, overseas players may tend to pay the higher prices since "its a vacation" and the exchange rate may allow them to afford the prices. So are costumes being priced for the overseas player more so than the local mas players?

Actually Trinidad carnival is more geared to the locals. A lot of locals register on line.

What do judges look for when determining the winners for band of the year? Is it costumes, organization within the band, themes etc?

This question is be one best left to the NCC. They are the ones who supply the judges and instruct them on the necessary criteria.

Well I was scrolling through the blog and came across the comment on the "designer(s)" for SC and MB, well truth be told there is no one band that has offered an exclusive contract that has enticed designers, it is far more profitable for a designer to freelance than to design for one band and this year that was the signature cut of these said designers, so until a band can make a good enough offer to designers so they do not have to work for any other band and while some might say there is no principle employed in this decision to freelance, remember the cost of living keeps rising and principle doesn't pay bills.

In a previous question I said I didn't find it ethical for designers to design for multiple bands. But I must admit that you do makes sense. Designers have a right to make a living, and if band leaders want a designer to be exclusive, we should pay for it. But it does not release the designer from making all efforts to ensure that if he does designs for different bands that his designs are completely different. An option would be for bandleaders to have the right to reject any particular design or designs if he was to later discover that another design very similar to it, was sold by the same designer to a rival band. Of course the band leader would be entitled to full reimbursement but would have to forfeit his right to produce any costume based on the particular design.If you understand how I have laid this out, it could be a possible option.

I would Like to know. Why Do Bands tend to Produce and Display In their Launch "individual" Costumes that they do not intend on mas Producing?...I'm sorry this is an ridiculous trend I'm seeing Being Practiced By Certain Bands.....Hint hint They Rhyme with "Skribe" And For that matter What Is the Options available for a person wanting to Play an Individual?

First off any design that is put out there, can be mass produced, the question is will the masses pay for it. But I agree, options should also be on display.And we try to, but we are also guilty of vanity and the desire to one up our competition And as you know there is a lot of competition out there.

1. What can be done to encourage more men to play mas?

I know there are some men who like to disguise for carnival but most like to keep it simple. For the most part all we seem to have done is try to make their costumes as uncomplicated as we think we can get away with. but I have found that if you give them a good warrior type costume they can get into it. But how many times can you do that. I mean men have different taste so I don't want to generalize, but it's hard to design costumes for men to compliment the female, especially if the female theme is very soft. But please if anyone has suggestions I would be more than glad to entertain them.

2. What is the future of mas? With costumes becoming more skimpy won't we soon have naked "masqueraders"?

The future is still undiscovered. I don't know what mas will look like 30 years from now I only hope that people are still disguising and having fun doing it.

3. Is the bubble going to burst for costume prices? Do you worry that one day people will rebel against the high prices? Even overseas masqueraders might one day be unable to afford to play. Look at the US dollar value these days, not to mention food costs, gas prices, etc.

Yes, sooner or later we will have to make costumes less fanciful and use cheaper sources of materials and sacrifices will have to be made by musicians and manufactures and the whole industry if we are to survive.These same sacrifices will have to be made by every business to survive.

If band leaders are aware that certain costumes are only for their "friends" why put them in a magazine for the public to feel that they are available for purchase..!!

How fair is private registration before the actual date ...and then to be told on the morning of the registration that the costumes "sold out".It seems that I have to have some "connections" to get costumes in particular bands just now!!!!!

I have always found this to be in such poor taste, not to mention bad public relations. I know bands may want to give regular and faithful masqueraders preference, but it must be done in an even handed way. And explained properly, after all I don't think anyone can begrudge rewarding loyal masqueraders with first choice, but it must be explained as such, and not give the appearance of being an unjustified elitist membership.

Thanks for letting me answer your questions for another week. Take care.everyone
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